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COVID-19 Response: Letter from the President, April 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I am thinking of you, your families, your colleagues, and the communities you serve and call home.

You and we know that there is more that needs to be done to respond to the COVID-19 crisis than any one of us can do alone. This pandemic has shown all of us the fragility of life and of so many aspects of our society. But I am heartened because, even in the midst of fear, sadness, and want, you, our grantee partners, are making a difference.

You may not know each other, but we are heartened to know you and the work that you are doing. That work stretches from frontline medical staff delivering patient care in the most trying of circumstances, to scientists testing ways to sterilize N95 masks. You are providing food to those who have lost their jobs, and helping others cover their rent, pay their bills, keep the lights on, or just make ends meet for another month. You are supporting the expansion of on-line technology to enable educators to teach and home visitors to reach children and families in new ways. You are advocating for policies that will help create a more equitable society and will bring public dollars to those who need them most. You are telling the truth about the science of this pandemic and about the ways in which responses to it are hitting the mark or falling short.

That is what you are doing. It is irreplaceable work.

Our part is simpler.

We are adopting several strategies in response to the current crisis. They include:

  • Support for existing grantees
  • Emergency support for the fields in which we work
  • Emergency response for vulnerable populations such as low-income individuals, families, and children of color; the incarcerated; and undocumented individuals.

For those of you interested in learning more, I’ll provide a few descriptions below. But please know we will also keep our website current with details of some of the significant grants we are making in response, opportunities we come across that might be valuable to you, and a link to the list of all of our COVID-19 response grants, found in the sidebar of this message.

Support for existing grantees

We recognize that many of our trusted partners are facing extreme difficulties right now. We’ve set up a Rapid Response Fund to provide up to $25,000 for interested grantees whose budgets have been negatively affected by at least 10 percent by COVID-19. We are also trying to provide flexibility to our grantees, such as relaxing paperwork requirements, shifting timelines, and, when possible, switching to general support. And we are providing our grantees with technical assistance support should they be trying to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides potentially forgivable loans for nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees experiencing uncertainty in the current economic climate.

Support for the field

Many of our programs continue to support grantees that advocate for improved policies, work on communications, or provide technical assistance. For example, our Education program, with its focus on early childhood education, is attentive to the importance of a steady, reliable early education workforce, necessary for others to return to work throughout the economy.

Emergency response

Across the Foundation, we’re trying to provide emergency response dollars where most needed. This includes much of what I mentioned above as well as support for low wage workers and family childcare providers, support to protect against utility shut-offs, and support for organizations working with immigrants and communities of color incarcerated in jails and immigration detention centers. Additionally, we’re making several grants focused on the needs for families and individuals living here in the San Francisco Bay Area, including for health care services, childcare, and other human services.

We will not know the lasting impact of the pandemic for some time, but we hope, with you, to alleviate some of the hunger and illness among the most vulnerable, keep organizations central to the field afloat, and in the long-run help make sure that policies that are introduced in this season of uncertainty move the field forward and are implemented well.

My colleagues and I at the Foundation send you positive wishes and much appreciation.

Deanna Gomby